Jarome Luai, the Blues five-eighth, has called out Queensland Maroons debutant Reece Walsh over a hair pull incident during the second half of the State of Origin match. The hair pull took place in the 50th minute and while it did not affect the result of the game, it triggered a heated dispute between the players on the field.
At the time of the incident, the match was poised on a knife-edge with the Blues claiming a 12-10 lead and in possession of the ball inside the Maroons’ 10m. Despite Walsh’s attempts to pull Luai’s hair and disrupt the play, the incident ultimately led to a play-the-ball for Queensland.
Earlier in the season, Luai’s long locks became an issue when the Panthers were awarded a penalty against Newcastle. Tyson Frizell dragged Luai to the ground by the back of his jersey, inadvertently grabbing his hair. However, on this occasion, Walsh seemed to deliberately try and pull Luai’s hair during a surrender tackle. Former Maroon Corey Parker jokingly referred to the action as merely “adjusting the ponytail”, but Luai did not find it amusing.
Speaking after the match, Luai was understandably unhappy about the hair pull incident, stating that Walsh was “weak” for his actions. He also suggested that Walsh had run away because he did not want to fight. While there is no suggestion that the hair pull was a targeted attack on Luai, he has gained a reputation as a villain over the past few seasons. In 2021, he stood over Felise Kaufusi after NSW’s game one win, and last season, he was involved in a fight after Maroons winger Selwyn Cobbo called him out.
Despite the disappointing loss to Queensland, Luai remains optimistic and is confident that the Blues can turn things around in the next game. He believes that the team just needs to work on their defence and win the big moments to emerge victorious. The series is far from over, and the Blues have a chance to redeem themselves when they take on the Maroons at Suncorp.